Sarah MacLean’s ‘Bombshell’ is Appropriately Titled and Smashes

Sarah MacLean's cover of Bombshell, the first installment in her Hell's Belles series.
Source: Sarah MacLean

Some minor spoilers from Bombshell; read only after you’ve finished the novel.

Sarah Maclean’s Bombshell, is in fact, very appropriately titled. So much so, that towards the end, I completely lost track of the plot and had no idea what was happening. A whirlwind of chaos, mystery, and a whole lot of bombshells after another, but nevertheless, in the words of MacLean herself, it smashes.

MacLean writes friendship just as gorgeously as she does romance, but Bombshell’s strength is the love story. (In some stories, I might argue it’s the friendships.) The love story however, is memorable and moving and so achingly brilliant because the prevalent longing between Sesily and Caleb feels guttural almost. You feel it on the page even while they aren’t together, it’s in between every line, it’s palpable, it’s raw, and so deliciously enticing.

The now long awaited story following the last of the Soiled S’s Sesily Talbot’s story and her brooding, mysterious American Caleb Calhoun is a damn delight of a historical romance novel. MacLean is an absolute wordsmith—even the dullest of her stories are so beautifully written, it’s entrancing through and through.

So, I’ll be frank about something, I’m not entirely sold on the Hell’s Belles yet, and I’m not at a place where I’m looking forward to their stories as much as I was with Sesily’s. Will I still read them? Absolutely. Will I love them? Probably. But it was so hard to care about them throughout the novel and it’s entirely due to the fact that both Sesily and Caleb are so fleshed out, I was just itching for more of them.

All that said, Bombshell is packed with the marvelous kind of longing where neither one understands just how much the other cares about them—the impact they’ve had and they impact they could have.

As a heroine, Sesily was easy to appreciate and root for since The Day of the Duchess (amidst the rest of the Scandal and Scoundrels series too). But in her own novel, Sesily is a treasure.

As most of Sarah MacLean’s heroines, she stands on her own brilliantly, takes no sh-t, and has a clear focus for what she wants. When it comes to love, she chooses it, fights for it, and does everything she can to ensure that it’s taken care of. There is something so soft about both Sesily and Caleb; the very kind of couple who melt around each other but are absolute forces to be reckoned with towards others.

And easy to appreciate, from my most recent memory, is the fact that she might just be the first 30-year-old woman I’ve read about in a historical romance. (Don’t at me about this, but if you’ve got recs for more, kindly send them my way. It’s a delight to feel relatable to the heroines I’m reading about.) Sesily is independent, takes what she wants and feels no shame about any of it. She cares about women, she cares about her friends, and she cares about bringing the worst kind of men the justice they deserve.

Then there is the matter of hero, Caleb Calhoun (which, literally every time he cursed, all I could think of was Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent, and MacLean is entirely to blame for putting this in my head on her socials). I’m not complaining, though. Roy Kent is the romance hero of our time, and I’m here for any historicals mirroring his gruffness while perfectly catering to the softer edges as well.

In short, Bombshell is a delight and worth the wait. 4/5 stars. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

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